Loot boxes aren't gambling, says New Zealand government

Department for Internal Affairs will “continue to follow the international discussion around loot boxes"

By Haydn Taylor.Published Tuesday 12th December 2017, 9:36am GMT

Loot boxes do not constitute gambling, according to the New Zealand Department for Internal Affairs.

In a letter received by Gamasutra, licensing compliance manager Trish Millward said: "While the payment of money for a loot box with the contents of which are determined by chance many appear to be gambling, the Department is of the view that loot boxes to not meet the legal definition of gambling."

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Millward also noted that it's not illegal for New Zealanders to gamble online with overseas gambling providers and under current legislation the Department has no ability to regulate loot boxes.

Although the New Zealand DIA has made its stance very clear, it also noted that it will "continue to follow the international discussion around loot boxes."

The debate surrounding loot boxes has become a quagmire since the UK government was first petitioned to consider the issue in parliament.

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Since then, two clear lines of reasoning have emerged. The first is that loot boxes don't technically constitute gambling under current legal definitions, and so the question has answered itself.

The second approach is that while loot boxes may not represent gambling in the traditional sense, money is exchanged in a game of chance and so the definition needs to be broadened in order to protect children and vulnerable adults.

From the ESRB and PEGI, to Hawaiian state representatives and the Belgian Gambling Commission, governments are increasingly taking notice of loot boxes. It puts publishers and developers in an increasingly awkward position as those who have implemented loot boxes effectively in the past could see a revenue stream compromised, and those considering it for future releases may have to rethink monetisation in order make the game viable.

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